Excavated Design Artifact #14

Yet additional proof that I never throw anything away. In a box of unfiled clutter I just found a business window envelope with a phone message note and a doodle made after returning a previous client's phone call.

The client, Lisa Fritsch of the Diva Salon, was considering opening a new hair and nail establishment in the renovated Pearl District building housing the headquarters of the ad firm Wieden & Kennedy. Negotiations were underway for the lease of the space and she wanted to proceed on the identity for the new business with the name "Page Six." It was a reference to the New York Post column by the same name, and the tagline for the salon was to be something like "Hair & nails that are talked about."

As my client described the business, and how she imagined the logo, I doodled a bit on the envelope (above left). She mentioned she had sketched something out herself, with her daughter's crayons on a sheet of notebook paper (above right), and asked if I wanted to see it. I told her I thought I had a good idea of what she wanted and I would go ahead with creating the initial concept. A few days later, I presented my concept (above center) and we were both stunned at how close my design was to her own doodle.

Then the unexpected happened. The lease negotiations came to an end. My client needed to rethink her business plan and look at new locations. A short time later she leased a renovated auto repair shop. Her "Page Six." name really didn't fit the new facility and it was scraped - but not before the logo design was accepted for publication in The Big Book of Logos 3.

(This post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Identity Re-Design: Our House of Portland

My association with the AIDS residential treatment facility, Our House of Portland, began back in 1994. In doing an initial graphics inventory for the group, it was determined there were no existing digital files for the Our House logo being used at the time. I was asked to clean up the logo and create the appropriate digital imagery (below left). That request was the beginning of a long-term relationship with Our House.

In the late 90's a redesign of the organization's identity was proposed. I invested a great deal of time in creating and presenting possible new logos based on feedback from staff, volunteers and others. As is often the case in logo redesign projects - especially with nonprofit organizations - one of the greatest challenges was to get beyond the emotional attachment to the old logo design and the question of why it was necessary at all to change things from "the way they have always been." The frustration of organization personnel and myself (especially as it was being done pro bono) resulted in the new logo project never being completed.

In late May 2006, I received an email from the new Marketing Director of Our House of Portland. It was a request for any information I might have on the history of the Our House logo. There was interest in the possibility of revisiting and updating the original logo for the organization. Our House was nearing completion of a new building, on the site of the previous facility, and he felt it might be an appropriate time to put a new identity in place.

The font "City of" (based on the type used by the Union Pacific Railroad and created by RailFonts) had already been selected for use on the new building's signage and the lobby donor board. I was asked to consider using the font for the new identity to give the image the contemporary look of the new structure, interiors and other elements of the project. A new Our House tagline, "Inspiring People with HIV/AIDS to Live Well," was another element I was to possibly include in the new logo. I was provided the color palette of the the interior design firm and painting contractor as an additional reference.

A visit to the nearly complete construction site provided me with a look at the new roofline and an immediate visual image of the icon in my head. I returned to my home studio and completed the logo concepts. It was decided that using the logo in a vertical formats, and also making use of a horizontal version might best serve the needs of the organization (above center and right). With a few days to go before the grand opening of the new home of Our House, embroidered shirts for the staff and volunteers, fridge magnets, banners and some additional signage were ordered.

The design appears in The Big Book of Logos 5 and was also honored with a 2007 American Graphic Design Award.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A look back at a successful self-promotion effort

I've come across some interesting items while sorting through over 30 years of files and folders of graphic design work and project documentation. Yesterday I found an undated, yellowed tear-sheet, of an article I'd written, from what must have been a 1992 or 1993 issue of the industry publication Graphic Design: usa. It appears to have been an issue with the special feature "Generating New Business" and I was writing about a promotion piece I had created for myself. The following is the text of the piece:

Fisher: Time to solicit new clients

The recession was late in coming to the Pacific Northwest. While hearing horror stories of the economic downturn hitting the advertising/design industry on the East coast, business in the Seattle and Portland markets did not seem to be affected in the last quarter of 1990. My own business is traditionally slower after the first of the year and during the first quarter of 1991 I planned to take advantage of this, scheduling time to design and produce my first major self-promotion piece.

Little did I know how fortunate I would be in the timing of the promo piece. The business slowdown hit the Northwest beginning in March. I found existing clients cutting back the production of new advertising/ marketing materials and relying on previously used pieces. Several scheduled corporate identity projects were suddenly put on hold as companies tightened their belts. Clients previously prompt in paying invoices slowly began paying their bills at 60, 90, 120 days or more. I even found it necessary to resign one major account of the issue of increasing late payments. In addition, several months earlier an ad agency that was my "bread and butter" account had merged with another firms that was not using as much freelance talent.

It was definitely time to solicit some new clients. My identity design work had been on a steady increase over the past two years and I felt I wanted to increase that area of my business even further. With the assistance of friends, who own a fulfillment house, I created a mailing list targeting over 700 advertising agencies, public relations firms, design houses, publications, non-profit organizations, clients, former clients and other business contacts made in my 10 years as a designer.

In designing the actual piece I found that I am my own worst client. My type house, camera shop and printer all commented on my increased perfectionism - several times. I also had great difficulty in trying to decide which of the logos I have designed to include in the project. Of course, I have my own personal favorites, but I wanted to show as much variety as possible. In the end I included 97 identities in the booklet form piece.

The promotional effort hit the mail in mid-April. I was being realistic in thinking most would end up in office filing cabinets and that I might not get much response for a few months. However, within one week I had identity projects from five new clients. What surprised me most were the number of people who called, or wrote notes, acknowledging my efforts with their compliments. To date I have had almost a 10% response to the project in the form of calls, letters, requests for more information or estimates, as well as actual projects.

As a follow-up to the mailing, I sent out press releases announcing all of my new clients, and their projects, for the first time. In each case the item has been published, creating even more response to, and confirmation of, the promo piece. It may be necessary to initiate a second printing of the brochure.

It's interesting to take a look back at this self-promo piece. The brochure was designed and created pre-computer. In fact, it was pre-Jeff Fisher LogoMotives - although an early Logo Motive identity design is included. The mailing envelope features a caricature of me drawn at an early 1980's media party by cartoonist and animator Bill Plympton - who later went on to great career success - including an Oscar nomination and a Cannes Film Festival Prix du Jury Award.

I now cringe at some of the logo designs I included in the piece - although quite a few have survived the test of time as strong, effective identities. With this being pre- "Toot! Toot!," press releases that were sent out after the promo item had the heading "Jeff Fisher Has Done It Again!" It was a very successful self-promotion effort for me, with new clients using it to contact me for five years after my initial mailing. I haven't sent out a major promotion effort since. The vast majority of my clients - and potential clients - at the time of the mailing were in Portland. These days about 80% of my business is outside of the Northwest, primarily due to Internet exposure.

In the GD:usa article, and on the promo mailing envelope, I make note of having been a professional graphic designer for ten years - when, in actuality, I began making a living as a designer about 1978. Maybe in the early 1990's I didn't feel that I had become a "real" designer until the early 1980's when I started working more independently. I didn't have a great deal of confidence back then. The response to my self-promotion mailer, and the GD:usa feature being published, did a great deal in confirming my abilities as a designer.

One of my great career lessons of this time was realizing how important it is for a designer, or design firm, to promote oneself all the time - rather than waiting until no work is coming in the door.

(Note: This post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Theatre Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Edward the Second
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

One of over 100 logos designed for the Portland-based triangle productions! theatre company. This design is featured in The Big Book of Logos 4.

Caught in the Net
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

The British farce involving Internet dating, by playwright Ray Cooney, is represented by this identity. The design appears in The Big Book of Logos 4 and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

Naked Boys Singing
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

I chose to have the "naked boy" hiding behind the microphone stand in this logo for the Portland production of the musical. The logo is included in The Big Book of Logos 4.

Will Rogers Follies
Client: Broadway Rose Theatre Company
Location: Tigard, OR USA

This image represented the Broadway Rose Theatre Company's 2002 production of the hit musical. It is featured in the books The Big Book of Logos 4 and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

NOTE: Many of the logos designed for theatre presentations are available for licensing through the Theatre Logos Agency.

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Excavated Design Artifact #13

I am a doodler. In the never-ending process of sorting through, and archiving, design projects from throughout my career, I am finding that I doodle a lot. I'm also learning that I must have never thrown anything away. Well, that last point has changed a bit. I've already taken 1.5 pickup truck loads of paper, cardboard and magazines to the neighbor- hood recycling center.

The other day I came across a folded catalog envelope. In unfolding the paper, I found the notes from a telephone conversation with Karen Fisher (no relation), made while she was living in Ogden, Utah. Karen is actually the mother of one of my partner's best friends from high school. She had come up with a business concept for building cupboards that would be placed in antique malls, and other suitable locations, to sell antiques, collectibles, gifts and other items ranging in price from $1 to $100.

The business name of "WhatNots" had been established; as had the tagline of "A Cupboard Collection of Spunky Stuff."

As the conversation continued, I doodled - including a small sketch of an antique cupboard; based on one I use as a china cabinet in my own dining room. My client said she would send me a photo of the one in her home (at right), which was the inspiration for her business model.

While we were talking, I was designing in my head. I immediately "saw" the business name "WhatNots" broken in two, with each half conveniently containing four letterforms. At the center of the logo would be the graphic image of the cupboard. With the description of the business, an "Arts & Crafty" type treatment was my only consideration. My cupboard illustration had a rough look to it and I felt the font Willow was a great solution. (The font was also used on a previous "excavated artifact.") I even used the period character from the font to create the knobs of the drawers and doors in the cupboard illustration.

The final WhatNots identity has always been a personal favorite. In addition, it won a LOGO 2000 award and appears in the book The Big Book of Logos 3.

(This post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Identity Re-Design: Lampros Steel

Lampros Steel is a company owned and operated by a friend of mine. For decades the family business, a metals distributor, had been represented by a logo incorporating a large simple “L” as the company's identifying symbol. Within the logo, which was often printed in a reflex blue, the name did not seem to read properly. To me, it seemed to come across as Steel Lampros.

A new logo was designed again making use of a large “L” as the primary element. This time the letterform took on the shape of a stylized steel beam, with gradations giving the symbol the appearance of reflective metal. A stronger font was introduced in representing the name, as it should read. The “L” shape is also a recognizable identifier for the company as a stand-alone graphic. When reproduction specifications make gradations not possible, the “L” may be presented in solid black or gray. The new image gave the company a much stronger presence in the industry.

With the new identity I can still give my friend a bad time when he wears his baseball cap with the large "L" on it. I tell him it stands for "loser," even though the business represented by the letterform continues to be very successful.

This corporate identity makeover appears in the book Logos Redesigned: How 200 Companies Successfully Changed Their Image by David E. Carter.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Non-Profit Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns
Client: Benicia Historical Museum
Location: Benicia, CA USA

The Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns had a split personality of multiple identifying images. The Civil War era U.S. Army base needed a logo representative of the time period and its history. The camel image from an antique etching of the museum was used in the design. The logo received an American Corporate Identity 22 award, and appears in The Big Book of Logos 5 and 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads.

Read more about the museum identity redesign effort on bLog-oMotives.

Association for Responsible Inner
Eastside Neighborhood Development

Client: AFriend
Location: Portland, OR USA

The AFriend logo was a pro-bono effort to be used to identify a group of businesses, successful neighborhood activists and residents in their fight against 'big box' store developments. The logo appears in The Big Book of Logos 5 and 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads.

Vista House
Client: Friends of Vista House, Oregon State Parks Trust
Location: Columbia River Gorge, OR USA

The logo identifies the Vista House, which was built in 1916-1918 as a memorial to Oregon pioneers and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The identity appears in the books Graphis Logo 6, Logos from North to South America (Spain) and 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads.

North Portland Business Association
Client: North Portland Business Association
Location: Portland, OR USA

This identity re-design took the industrial history of the area, prominent landmarks and the local blue heron into consideration as elements. The logo appears in the book Logos From North to South America (Index Book, Spain, 2005), Logos Café (Page One, Singapore 20050, Logos from North to South America (Paper-mini, Index Book, Spain, 2005), The Big Book of Logos 5 (Harper Design, USA, 2007), The Big Book of Logos 5 (Paperback, Harper Design, USA, 2012) and I Heart Logos, Season Three (iheartlogos.com, USA, 2012).

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Identity Re-Design: Tilikum Center
for Retreats & Outdoor Ministries

Over the years I've executed several logo design projects for various programs of George Fox University. The most recent was for the Tilikum Center for Retreats & Outdoor Ministries, located in the backwoods of Oregon's Yamhill County. The facility offers retreats for all age ranges, including summer camps for kids and elderhostels.

While the client, and those making use of the retreat, didn't necessarily have an aversion to the old logo, it was felt that the identity was beginning to appear a bit dated. In addition, "official" colors had never been selected for the design and it was often presented in black only.

The free-form natural of the original logo tended to cause layout problems in some uses. That was eliminated by enclosing the image within a rustic, square frame.

The canoe, tree and forest images of the old logo were retained an incorporated into the new format. The font PanAm was selected to give the name a more traditional appearance. Rich blues and greens were chosen as colors for the identity - reflecting the natural colors found at the Tilikum retreat.

The logo appears in the book The Big Book of Logos 5.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Church Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Reedwood Friends Church
Client: Reedwood Friends Church
Location: Portland, OR USA

The Reedwood Friends Church requested a non-traditional identity image without the usual religious icon imagery. The logo appears in the book American Corporate Identity 2003

Metropolitan Community Church
Client: Metropolitan Community Church of Portland
Location: Portland, OR USA

This identity has represented MCC Portland in several revised versions for a capital campaign, church programs and the structure itself.

Trinity Project: A Church for the Northwest
Client: Trinity Project
Location: Portland, OR USA

The goal of the Trinity Project is to create a compelling community that consistently proves that church need not be artificial, pretentious or manipulative. For that reason the identity was to project an image of the Pacific Northwest. The logo and stationery package for the church is featured in The Big Book of Designs for Letterheads and Websites.

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Excavated Design Artifact #12

Over a nearly 30-year career a designer does seem to accumulate a lot of "stuff" - especially when it seems nothing has ever been tossed out in the trash or recycled. My design studio housecleaning continues. I've been cleaning and cataloging my dusty advertising collectibles. The same is being done with my library of design books going back to my high school days. This past week I made sure that the contents of hundreds of old floppy disks from 1992-1997 were properly backed up and stored. See what I mean about never throwing anything away?

I am safely storing away doodles and sketches for logo designs, and other projects, that I've come across while cleaning out files and boxes. One pieces of paper, a laser printout of a letterhead for an engineering firm, displays the original doodle for my Jeff Maul logo, a couple others for clients of the advertising agency owned by my sister, and three sketches for what would become the identity for WordWright.

In 1994, Kimberly Webster came to me to create an identity for her technical, business and grant writing efforts. Her company name was to be WordWright. She wanted an image that projected a hand-wrought quality, conveying the sense of her work being done by a traditional craftsperson.

In my twisted little mind I immediately saw an image of pens and a pencil forming a rustic "W" icon. The doodles above, done with a fine-point black pen, show the progression of my thoughts to a final logo concept.

The font ITC Willow seemed like an appropriate "fit" with the graphic imagery. The combination resulted in a strong one-color identifying symbol for Webster's Portland-based business.

Webster moved to Seattle in 1997 and felt it was necessary to update the logo in introducing herself to a new market of potential independent project clients. With her last name beginning with a "W," the solution was simple. Her name was given the Willow type treatment and she was ready to take on her new business market.

A couple years later Webster called me to announce she was getting married and her logo once again needed to be altered. I've always accused her of seeking out someone whose surname began with a "W." With the married name of "Waters," a type change was all the change required.

This past year there was yet another name change. As this alteration required changing the established icon for the first time, I will write about it in a future Re-Design bLog-oMotives entry.

The original WordWright image made an appearance in the Japanese book New Logo & Trademark Design - republished in paperbook as Logo and Trademark Collection. In its "Kimberly Webster" form the identity was featured in the 1998 Print Regional Design Annual and the Japanese book Logo World. The "Kimberly Waters" logo is included in Letterhead and Logo Design 7, Logo Design for Small Business 2, The Big Book of Logos 3 and the Spanish book Logos: From North to South America (which will soon be released in paperback).

(This post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The lost art of the thank you note

I can't stress the value of a simple "thank you" enough. It will be one of the most important communication tools throughout your professional career. In addition to be being a common courtesy, you are conveying that the value of another person's time, or effort on your behalf, is understood and appreciated. However, expressing appreciation has seemingly become a lost art in day-to-day business dealings.

As a child, one of the most annoying things my mother ever made me do was requiring me to sit down at the dining room table for the purpose of writing personal thank you notes for gifts received on any occasion. A couple years ago I let my Mom know I had been cursing her as I hand wrote about 25 personal notes to people from the HOW Design Conference who had taken the time to give me advice, took me out dinner or presented me with gifts. Her response was, "I guess someone raised you properly."

The use of the thank you note has been in the news recently. The Web presence CareerBuilder.com conducted a survey of hiring professionals in regards to how their employing decisions were influenced by thank you notes, or other forms of appreciation or acknowledgement, from interviewees.

"Although most hiring managers expect to receive a thank-you note, format preferences differ. One-in-four hiring managers prefer to receive a thank-you note in e-mail form only; 19 percent want the e-mail followed up with a hard copy; 21 percent want a typed hard copy only and 23 percent prefer just a handwritten note," wrote Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com, in her article No Thank You Could Mean No Job.

She added, "No matter which format you choose, it's crucial to act quickly when sending a thank-you letter to your interviewer. Twenty-six percent of hiring managers expect to have the letter in-hand two days after the interview, and 36 percent expect to have it within three to five days. Sending the letter quickly reinforces your enthusiasm for the job, and helps keep you top-of-mind for the interviewer."

The thank you note has a variety of valuable applications.

When David E. Carter publishes a book featuring a designer's work, as a result of one of his design competitions or some other effort, he sends a complimentary copy to the contributor. I've made it a practice to make sure I immediately send a thank you to Carter each time I receive one of his publications to add to my collection. In 2001 I received a copy of his book Blue is Hot, Red is Cool, exhibiting several examples of my logo design work. I sent off a thank you, in email form this particular time. I was stunned when I got Carter's response:

"Thanks for the nice note. You don't know how much I appreciate your taking the time to do so. (I know, you are supposed to send 'thank you' notes; parents all taught us that. But of the 70+ copies of the new book I sent, I have received exactly two 'thank you' notes.) Best wishes."

I couldn't believe that lack of appreciation demonstrated by those in our profession. I do realize that everyone has busy schedules, but it should be a regularly scheduled activity to take time to jot off quick notes to those who have done something worthy of a "thank you." Doing so makes a huge impression on people — and for some reason most people's professional manners just aren't what they once were. I recently had a letterpress blank notecard produced for multiple purposes — including showing appreciation.

"I make it a point to send a thank you note," says King Design Group's Cindy King. "I have specific notecards that I designed for this purpose. It's always a handwritten note."

"We always send a handwritten note of some kind after first meeting with any potential client thanking them for their time and consideration." contributes Gary Dickson of Epidemic Design. "Sometimes it is a card that we have produced but, if not, we are very careful to purchase a unique card that cannot be found in a typical store."

Martha Retallick — "The Passionate Postcarder" — adds, "I have a special 'Thank You' postcard. I try to make it a point to send at least five handwritten 'Thank You' cards per day. No, my handwriting isn't the best, but what better incentive to improve it?"

No matter what form you chose to communicate your thanks, making the effort is a must and the recipient will remember it. All designers — and all business people for that matter — need to make it an element of their daily communication, marketing and promotion efforts.

Article links:

David E. Carter / GraphicBooks.org

Cindy King / King Design Group

Gary Dickson / Epidemic Design

Martha Retallick / Western Sky Communications

*Note: This article originally appeared on the late, great web site Commpiled.com. As the site article archive no longer exists, I am reposting it here. It was also previously posted on bLog-oMotives. Portions of this piece appear in my book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career."

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Government Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Neighborhood Service Center
Client: City of Portland, Office of Neighborhood Involvement
Location: Portland, OR USA

Designed for the City of Portland, the Neighborhood Service Center received the Gold in the Summit International Creative Awards, and appears in The Big Book of Logos 5 (Harper Design, USA, 2007), 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads (Angela Patchell Books, UK, 2008), The Big Book of Logos 5 (Paperback, Harper Design, USA, 2012) and Logo Nest 03 - B&W Edition (Logo Nest, Serbia, 2014).

Oregon Department of Forestry
Client: Oregon Department of Forestry
Location: Salem, OR USA

This state government agency wanted a redesigned logo with a much more organic representation of the natural resources of Oregon. The re-design is one of the case studies in my book Identity Crisis! 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands (HOW Books, USA, 2007).

Oregon 911
Client: Oregon Office of Emergency Management
Location: Salem, OR USA

The Oregon 911 identity was used to introduced the state-wide 911 emergency system to the citizens of the State of Oregon.

Valles Caldera National Preserve
Client: Valles Caldera Trust and USDA Forest Service
Location: Jemez Springs, NM USA

Travels in New Mexico provided the inspiration for this logo for the U.S. Forest Service. It appears the books American Corporate Identity, The Big Book of Logos 4, LogoLounge, Vol. 2, 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Identity Re-Design: TraveLady Media

Pacific Northwest television personality Cheryl Hansen is known as the “TraveLady” due to her reports and video segments on the travel industry. For many years she used an illustration of a woman carrying luggage as a personal identity (below left).

With plans to move into television and video production, focusing on travel options and opportunities for women, she wanted to update the old illustration with a transformation into a strong logo for branding purposes. The illustration was converted into a silhouette and one of the bags evolved into a graphic representation of a television (above right). Sophistication was added to the design through the use of a specific font for “TraveLady.” Movement was suggested with the human form overlapping the name and the gradation of the “Media” banner. The actual word incorporated into the banner may change with specific needs or usage.

The design was honored with an American Graphic Design Award, and is featured in the book Logo Design for Small Business 2.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Excavated Design Artifact #11

Sorting through 30 years of files and boxes of old design projects is a major undertaking. I've been doing it for several months now and I've only made a small dent in the archives of my work. I'm also archiving old project floppy and zip disks as I dig through the stuff in my home-studio. Still, I guess that it's a good thing I seldom throw anything away.

The other day I was going through a box of old papers and came across a page of media contacts. Many of the names had been crossed out. Phone numbers were scribbled all over the page. I couldn't imagine why I might have saved the piece of paper. I turned it over and discovered numerous phone messages, obviously transcribed from my old answering machine. There were some other messy mindless sketches at the top of the page. Doodled at the bottom was the image of a television set, a micro- phone and a newspaper - the beginnings of one of my favorite initial logo efforts.

In the early 90's I started doing contract design work for an independent public relations and marketing specialist by the name of Denny Shleifer. Shortly after starting our business relationship, he asked if I could design a new logo for his business - something that was more dynamic and fun than the image he was using at the time. Shleifer brought an energy to his work that I hadn't experienced in many people in his industry and he was a great deal of fun to be around.

The doodle above, surrounded by other notes, was obviously done while I was on the phone with someone else. The black ink of the drawing matches some other notations. It immediately captured the persona of Denny Shleifer.

Once in a while there are those logo concepts that I just know will be the identity to represent the client. This was one of those situations. I remember showing Shleifer the final concept and he responded with "Wow, this is me!"

The design provided me additional confidence in my logo design abilities when it was selected to be included in the Rockport Publishers book Letterhead & Logo Design 4. Years later it was featured in The Best of Letterhead & Logo Design.

In 1995 Shleifer incorporated his business and changed the official name to Shleifer Marketing Communications, Inc. The altered name required a few adjustments in the logo. I unsuccessfully tried to convince my client that "Inc." did not need to be in the new image. Still, it didn't seem to be too distracting in the revised identity.

The new Shleifer logo got additional exposure in the books International Logos & Trademarks 4, Letterhead & Logo Design 5, More Logos & Letterheads, and the Japanese offerings New Logo & Trademark Design and Logo & Trademark Collection.

(The post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives on July 10, 2007.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Theatre Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Theater! Theatre!
Client: triangle productions! and Stark Raving Theatre
Location: Portland, OR USA

Theater! Theatre! was the home of two local theatrical production companies in Southeast Portland. The design appears in The New Big Book of Logos.

Songs for a New World
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

Songs for a New World is a work of musical theater written and composed by Jason Robert Brown. The logo is featured in The Big Book of Logos 3.

The Kathy & Mo Show
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

Originally created by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, this production was a local presentation featuring Portland talents. The identity appears in The New Big Book of Logos, Great T-shirt Graphics 3 and the Japanese volumes New Logo and Trademark Designs and New Logo and Trademark Collection.

Alice B. Theatre
Client: Alice B. Theatre
Location: Seattle, WA USA

With Alice B. Toklas inspiring the name, a hat seemed like a natural graphic element for this 1980's logo design representing a Seattle theatre company.

Read more about the process of this identity project on bLog-oMotives.

NOTE: Many of the logos designed for theatre presentations are available for licensing through the Theatre Logos Agency.

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

What can celebrated graphic designer Jeff Fisher teach us about small business marketing?

By Marcia Ming

One of the key mistakes small businesses make when creating an online presence is trying to do it all themselves, says Jeff Fisher, a graphic designer with 30 years experience, and author of two books on graphic design. Fisher also is a member of the advisory boards for How Magazine, UCDA Designer Magazine and the How Design Conference.

"I always tell business owners do not try this at home," he says. "Hire a professional who knows what they are doing. It does not need to cost a fortune, but there will be tremendous benefit in bringing in someone who really understands how to create what a business needs to get off on the right foot."

His suggestions for finding a professional include:

• Check out designer portfolios online.

• Contact local design schools, universities or community colleges for recommendations of outstanding students who may be able to help for monetary compensation and possible school credit.

• Some college business programs have outreach programs to assist small businesses in marketing and promotion efforts.

• Research the resources available through the Small Business Administration. If your business has a service or product of value to a design professional, consider bartering or a partial trade of equal value.

Remember, that the initial online impression made with a potential customer can make all the difference; the cost of the online presence is an investment in the future of your business, says Fisher.

The Portland, Oregon graphic designer, writer and speaker hails from a family with deep roots in PR and marketing; his father, mother and sister have all had careers in some aspect of the business. In fact it was his sister, who owns an ad agency, who helped Fisher zone in on the aspect of graphic design he enjoyed most at a time when he was experiencing burnout.

"For about the first 17 years of my career I took on any and all design projects that came my way," he explains. "I thought that was what graphic designers were expected to do. In a conversation with my sister I mentioned I was starting to get burned out by my work. Her comment was, Why aren't you focusing on what you enjoy most? I kind of looked at her with a blank stare and she said, Logo designs."

That was when he adopted the business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives and began marketing himself primarily as a designer of corporate identities.

Although his customers typically find him these days, Fisher has a lot of ideas about what works and does not work with small business marketing. For example, he avoids paid traditional print advertising and Yellow Page advertising.

"I learned that print advertising was simply not effective in marketing my services," Fisher says. While Yellow Page advertising, "tends to bring designers too many tire kickers looking for services based on price only."

Strategies that have worked for Fisher include:

Press releases, distributed online and through traditional snail mail. The relationships developed with editors and writers over the years are incredibly valuable to a business.

Writing also has become a major marketing element for my business, Fisher admits, mentioning he has been asked to write numerous articles for design and business publications and websites.

Two books, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career released in 2004, and Identity Crisis: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands, in 2007 have earned him the status of industry expert.

Business blog, bLog-oMotives, started in 2005.

Speaking engagements - Fisher speaks to high school groups, design schools, colleges and universities, design organizations and at conferences like the industry HOW Design Conference.

Pro bono work - While such efforts might not be considered marketing by many, it does get my name out into the business community, puts me in contact with many local movers and shakers, and provides an opportunity to promote the end results.

• One direct mail-piece long ago generated a targeted, self-created list of 500 individuals so powerful that Fisher has not needed to do a mailing since.

Like many small business owners, Fisher prefers low-cost - or no-cost - marketing tools. He has even managed to turn some of them, like the writing of articles and books and speaking engagements into income-producing activities.

"With my writing, and speaking engagements, my business is also evolving into one of becoming a professional industry expert while taking on limited design projects," Fisher said. "At a design conference a few years ago I explained to an audience that I wanted to work less, charge more."

Marcia Ming, publisher of Savvy Marketing Secrets, is a former print journalist and small business marketing consultant. To learn more about marketing your business online and off, visit her website: www.savvymarketingsecrets.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/Marcia Ming

(Note: Marcia Ming also wrote the article "Home Business by Design," for Savvy Marketing Secrets, based on her interview with Jeff Fisher.)

Excavated Design Artifact #10

The sorting through backed-up digital files, filing cabinets and boxes continues in my home studio as I archive over 30 years of design work. Recently I came across a somewhat mangled photocopy of a page from an old PRINT Regional Design Annual. In looking over the images on the page, I had no idea why I might have made a copy of this particular selection of design images. However, when I looked on the backside of the piece of paper, two pencil sketches of what would become the logo for the Seattle restaurant Glo's Broiler were evident.

When living in Seattle in the late 1980's, I developed a personal connection with the Capital Hill eatery. The late Glo Raineri, the founder of the breakfast and lunch cafe - and the mother of one of my closest friends - was also my roommate. I was one of a number of young men who, at various times, rented rooms in her house, which was sometimes referred to as "Glo's Home for Wayward Boys." Her restaurant became a natural extension of that life and I ate many meals in the place. That I would eventually design the logo for the place was no surprise.

I especially enjoy designing restaurant identities. There's often an incredibly creative challenge in capturing the essence of an eating establishment in an eye-catching and concise logo image to represent a business entity that conveys a very specific theme or food style. In the past, I wrote about such design projects in the Logo Notions article Designs on dining: Restaurant logos as a graphic invitation to a meal and an experience.

For me, Glo's Broiler had the feeling of an old-fashioned diner and that type of imagery came to mind as possible logo elements - neon, sytlized illustration, chrome, a checkerboard tablecloth, and red vinyl upholstery. My first pencil sketch (above) tilted a square border into a diamond shape, and introduced a steaming coffee cup as a replacement for the "o" in the word "Glo's;" while a plate of a common breakfast entree became the "o" in "Broiler." The second doodle (at right) eliminated the confining border and hinted at the type treatment - which I already knew would make use of the font Frankfurter Highlight. It's interesting that in the revised concept the addition of a checkerboard base can barely be seen on the paper. I erased it from the drawing whole working on the logo creation.

As the identity design developed, the bacon, eggs and toast graphic took inspiration from a similar image in a silkscreen print I had produced, and sold through several galleries, years earlier. In a "happy accident," the placement of the coffee cup and plate created a lower-case "g" - a secondary representation of "Glo." The checkerboard imagery then returned to give the logo some balance and weight.

With the completion of the logo, it was decided to do T-shirts to market the restaurant. A snide comment from a guy in a bar, referring to me as one of "Glo's boys," resulted in an additional "Glo's Boys" logo being creating and it became the identity for a bowling team the restaurant sponsored.

Glo, given the name of "Mother of Capital Hill" by Seattle newspapers, passed away in October of 2005. The restaurant remains open, although the logo has not been used for some time. Still, the image lives on in the books Bullet-Proof Logos, Logo Design for Small Business 2 and the Japanese volume New Logo and Trademark Design (which was recently re-released as the paperback Logo and Trademark Collection).

(The post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives on May 23, 2007.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The high cost of saving money on a business image

Not too long ago a potential identity design client requested information about the estimated cost of creating a logo to represent a new start-up business. The business was about to be launched and the identity creation costs had not been considered in the business plan budget.

I wasn't surprised when, after receiving the information, the business owner contacted me to explain that the price range quoted was much higher than anticipated and that they would most likely consider branding the company with a logo design that was "adequate" at the present time. It was explained that they later hoped to hire me to redesign the corporate image to better reflect their desires for the public persona of the business?


In nearly 30 years as a professional designer I often hear this justification for initially scrimping on one of the most important advertising, marketing and promotion elements for any business. Many new business owners simply do not plan for the possible costs involved in the creation of the image with which their business or product will be introduced to the target market.

In cutting corners, such business owners are seldom saving any money. In fact, much greater business identity costs over time are usually the result. When "settling" for a less than adequate logo design, the costs of stationery packages, storefront and vehicle signage, print advertising and other promotional items are still incurred. Being less than satisfied with the early graphic image of the business often means that all of those expenses will be duplicated until the owner has achieved the desired end result through a series of re-designs.

A client once came to me after having a business identity re-designed five times in five years. The owner admitted to "settling" for a new logo each year due to an impending print or advertising deadline reminding him of the lack of satisfaction with the image being used at the time. Each new identity effort was rushed;, and then required the reproduction of every piece of material used to market and promote the business. Over five years the process had become a very costly endeavor.

The business owner finally budgeted time and money for hiring a professional designer to create a logo to properly represent the firm in question. As a designer specializing in identity design, I researched the business's target market, local competition and specialized industry before even starting the design process. Several logo concepts were presented to the client and, within a few weeks, the company had a new and improved identity. In this case, the logo was used successfully for a period of 10 years - until the business was purchased by a larger industry entity.

When entering into the process of starting a new business, or revamping the identity of an existing company, the business owner needs to do their research and budget adequate time and funds for the project. This is a "must" when creating an initial business plan. The spur of the moment decisions to go with a discount online logo design resource may not provide the knowledge, expertise, and unique end result that will best suit one's business. The successful branding of a business most often requires much more than slapping a clip art image up next to a type treatment of the business name as a last-minute solution. Instead, the businessperson should research a variety of designers, or design firms, to find a good match of talent, skill and understanding of the business's very specific needs, before embarking on the process of establishing a strong business identity.

In my new book, Identity Crisis! 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands (HOW Books, October 2007), Robynne Raye, of the Modern Dog Design Company in Seattle, suggests the business owner simply "find a designer you can trust, and then trust them."

An identity design process that is well planned, realistically budgeted early on, researched thoroughly, and utilizes the services of a professional designer with a proven track record of collaborative efforts, may initially be a bit more expensive than originally expected. However, the realistic investment in the image, and future success, of one's business will be more than worth the cost when done right the first time.

This bLog-oMotives entry originally appeared on my "Designs on Business" blog at JumpUp.com.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Retail Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Joy Creek Nursery
Client: Joy Creek Nursery
Location: Scappoose, OR USA

This identity re-design gave the business the more high-end look expected by the clientele. The identity appears in the books The New Big Book of Logos, New Logo World (Japan) and Logo Design for Small Business 2.

Read more about the Joy Creek Nursery project on bLog-oMotives

W.C. Winks Hardware
Client: W.C. Winks Hardware
Location: Portland, OR USA

At 90-years-old Winks Hardware never had been identified with a logo. The design incorporates a graphic treatment of the only surviving photo image of the founder. The image is featured in American Corporate Identity/14, New Business Card Graphics 2 (Japan), Letterhead and Logo Design 7, Graphically Speaking, LogoLounge - Volume 1, Logo Design for Small Business 2, Logos from North to South America (Spain) and 1000 Retail Graphics.

Balloons on Broadway
Client: Balloons on Broadway
Location: Portland, OR USA

The redesigned Balloons on Broadway identity allows for animation and various color treatments in marketing holiday promotions. The identity is featured in The Big Book of Logos 3, New Logo World (Japan), Logo Design for Small Business 2, and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

Peggy Sundays
Client: Peggy Sundays
Location: Portland, OR USA

The identity for this high-end gift and home furnishings store is featured in the books The Big Book of Logos 3, New Logo & Trademark Design 2 (Japan), Letterhead and Logo Design 7 and The Big Book of Design for Letterheads and Websites.

See more retail logo designs by Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Identity Re-Design: Laugh Lover's Ball

The Laugh Lover's Ball - An Evening of Sophisticated Silliness! is an annual February event in Seattle. The evening usually involves a host of national and local comedians performing a number of comic genres including: sketch, stand-up, poetry, music and some audience participation gags.

In late 2001 Seattle comedian David Crowe contacted me to redesign the identity for the comedy event held each Valentine's Day. For the previous six years a collage of art elements, photo imagery and distorted type had been combined in a logo representing the night of comedy. Crowe felt it was time to create a strong, simple, cleaner symbol to represent the fundraising event from year to year. I was asked to create a new identity that would maintain elements of the logo already in use. While continuing to use their signature font Harrington, I incorporated the arrow tip as the "A" letterform in the word "BALL." A more graphic representation of the "Groucho Marx" glasses/nose combo was used to illustrate a face on the heart idea "borrowed" from the original design and the tagline for the evening was included in the new logo. Years later the revamped logo is still representing this great event.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives